In the case of Hinck’s Turkey Farm in Wall Township, the answer’s easy: the egg came first.
Decades before Amazon was dropping packages on doorsteps, Margie Hinck Longo’s father Richard John Hinck was peddling eggs door-to-door at the Jersey Shore. It was the 1930s, an era when milk came to you, not the other way around. “We used to have the Dugan Man,” Margie says, recalling the bygone days of the now defunct baked goods truck. “Not so anymore.”
Fortunately, Hinck’s egg business endured. “His father Henry Hinck had a chicken farm in Lakewood, right across from Ocean County Park. My father started buying eggs from his father and delivering them up and down the Shore,” Margie says. In 1938, her father and mother started their own chicken farm in Glendola. “He still did the egg delivering,” Margie says, but he also got “requests around the holidays for turkeys. So he started [the turkeys] in a garage,” abandoned egg delivery, and a family business was born. Or hatched.
Of course, things were different back then, in ways some of us probably couldn’t stomach. “You’d go out to the farm and pick out your turkey and he would kill it for you there,” Margie says. “He did what was called ‘New York Dressed,’ head off, turkey plucked, feet stay on.” Eighty years later, you can still get fresh-killed turkeys from Hinck’s (they raise about 15,000 annually), you just don’t have to look your dinner in the eye. These days, most customers order over the phone. And for Thanksgiving, the calls come early. “We start after Labor Day,” says Margie. The entire week before Thanksgiving, in fact, Hinck’s becomes an all-hands-on-deck, 24-7 operation. “We’re slaughtering, processing, cooking round the clock.”
Hinck’s turkeys aren’t organic, but they are free range, and the farm has an Animal Welfare Program they take seriously. “If turkeys are satisfied and happy, moving around in the sun and fresh air, they grow faster.” For Thanksgiving, Hinck’s will do roughly 200 frozen, 1200 fresh-killed, and 600 pre-cooked turkeys. The family business even takes care of dessert. “We have about 16 different varieties of pie,” says Margie. “My sister Mary is in charge of the baking. She’s been at the store since she was about 18.”
Thanksgiving orders come through Hinck’s retail store in Manasquan. They don’t sell out of grocery stores but they do ship direct (meaning you can eat a Jersey Shore turkey in Alaska if you’re willing to pay shipping). The overriding goal is efficient, humane processing, which is why Hinck’s has its USDA processing plant right on farm grounds. It’s also why they don’t run tours anymore—in an age savvy to avian flu, processing facilities can’t have tourists Instagramming turkey pens.
As for what to buy, Hinck’s raises a small variety of poults (or young turkeys, bought from breeders out of Ohio and Virginia), breeds like Nicholas and Hybrid White Hens, with a tendency toward more breast meat. “Some only get to 13 or 14 pounds, others up to 30.” Yes, they do get orders for 30-pounders—“several hundred,” actually. “Some people will take a 38-pounder,” says Margie. The majority, though, are in the 20-to-22 pound range. “It seems to be going up a little bit year after year. There are fewer people [cooking], but more people gathering.”
Come closing time on Turkey Day (“my husband stays up for two and a half days”), they’ll go to Margie’s sister-in-law’s for dinner. “We have a Hinck’s turkey, of course,” she says.
And then it’s time to gear up for Christmas. “We will probably sell more turkeys for Christmas than anyone in New Jersey.”
Hinck’s Turkey Farm is located at 3930 Belmar Boulevard in Glendola (Wall Township). The retail store is at 1414 Atlantic Avenue in Manasquan. 732-223-5622. They are open until 2 PM on Thanksgiving Day.Click here to leave a comment